Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Leon Lett can finally laugh about Thanksgiving gaffe
By Tim MacMahon
IRVING, Texas – It took a long time, but Leon Lett can laugh about his Thanksgiving Day gaffe now.
“It took me a while to let it go,” Lett said during a Wednesday morning appearance on ESPN 103.3’s Ben and Skin Show. “It took me a while to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner for sure.”
Lett’s what-was-he-thinking? moment cost the Cowboys a win in that 1993 meeting with the Miami Dolphins. In an unforgettable scene at snowy Texas Stadium, Lett inexplicably slid through a crowd of Dolphins to try to recover a blocked field goal attempt with seconds remaining, allowing Miami another chance at a chip-shot field goal on the final play of the game.
With the Dolphins returning as the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving guests, Lett is cashing in on a play that haunted him for years. He’s the star of a Snickers promotional campaign, the centerpiece of which is a mockumentary that attributes the blunder to “playing literally hungry.”
Lett, who is in his first season an assistant defensive line coach for the Cowboys, doesn’t mind joking about the mistake now. However, it crushed him emotionally at the time, causing great embarrassment for two-time Pro Bowl defensive linemen.
“Honestly, it was the worst play of my life as a football player,” said Lett, who wasn't usually on the field-goal block unit. “It was tough. I went into the locker room and I was freezing. Jimmy [Johnson] walked in and consoled me, and I had the support of Jerry Jones. Some of my teammates were really upset and I understood that. We were coming off a Super Bowl championship season and looking for another Super Bowl. I was down on myself, but there was some support from my teammates as well.”
Lett, who was painfully shy during his playing days, specifically recalls Nate Newton doing interviews on his behalf and Charles Haley escorting him out of a back exit of the stadium.
A quest for forgiveness is the theme of the Snickers campaign, but that came quickly from Lett’s teammates. He played a significant role while the Cowboys won the remainder of their games that season, including Super Bowl XXVIII.
“It wasn’t a lazy play,” said Jason Garrett, who was a backup quarterback on that team. “It was an effort play: ‘I’m going to do something. I’m going to make a play here.’ Unfortunately, sometimes when you do that and you are not fully versed on what the rule is, you make a mistake.
“But anybody who has been around Leon knows he’s such a wonderful guy and a great player. We certainly felt bad for him and he felt so bad at the time. But everyone around him told him, ‘Forget about it. Keep doing what you are doing.’ And he came back and was a big part of what we did down the stretch that year.”
That's ancient history now for Lett. He'll be able to enjoy some turkey after the game and eat a Snickers for dessert.